No snow for Seattle but it's coming to Portland; blizzard in Gorge

SEATTLE -- The Willamette Valley is taking our early season cold snap and doing the Puget Sound region one better: By adding in a potentially significant snow storm.

Winter Storm Watches are now in effect for Northwestern Oregon -- including the Portland/Willamette Valley area -- and parts of far Southwestern Washington, such as Cowlitz and Clark County (yes, Vancouver too) for as much as 4-6 inches of snow and/or a quarter inch of freezing rain.

But near the western outflow of the Columbia River Gorge, it's potentially much more dangerous, rivaling Midwest winter events. A Blizzard Warning is in effect for the Western Columbia Gorge area from Thursday morning through Thursday evening for a Winter Mayhem grab bag of heavy snow, near hurricane-force winds and freezing rain.

Forecasts call for potential snow accumulations there of 5-10 inches, with a transition to freezing rain Thursday night that could coat everything with a quarter to half inch of ice. Oh, and easterly winds will have potential to gust as high as 65-70 mph.

Again that Blizzard Watch is in the western Gorge areas, but does not include the Portland metro area nor Gresham -- they're in the Winter Storm Watch (essentially because they won't have the as-strong wind component to make it an official blizzard) but it'll still be windy with wind chills near zero.

What about the Seattle metro area? Nothing to see here folks. Just some fringe clouds Thursday. The snow is coming from a storm that is going to swing into the Oregon coast, but there is some forecast model disagreement with how far north the storm will make landfall, and that is adding some uncertainty to how far north the snow will spread.

One forecast model has landfall along the southern Oregon coast around Brookings or Coos Bay, limiting snowfall's northern march to essentially the Oregon/Washington border -- maybe some into Vancouver. But the European model (which has been scoring much better as it's a more high resolution model) has the storm making landfall around Newport, and pushing the snowfall line north to roughly the Lewis/Thurston County line and would bring some accumulating snow to Longview, Kelso, Vancouver, and perhaps a little snow (but not much) to Centralia and Chehalis. In that scenario, places as far north as Olympia might see some flurries or a dusting but you're really on the edge.

Forecast models have been very consistent though that no snow makes it north of Olympia. So for the Puget Sound region and points north, just a cloudy, cool day but dry -- maybe some sun far north closer to the Canadian border.

The storm moves out as we get into Friday and the entire Northwest resumes a dry pattern. Most models don't really have Seattle's next rainfall until mid-to-late next week. So if you're a Seattleite longing for snow, it'll require a trip to Portland.
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